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What material are good for mashing/boiling. I think stainless steel and copper are good, what about aluminum and enamel?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Both are fine, my pans are all aluminum as Stainless on that size is hard to find and expensive over here.

If you would cook on it you can brew on it.

Just be careful with what you use to clean them, John Palmer has some tips

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I also want to share some points:

Both Stainless steel and copper have good conductivity, copper has a higher heat conduction. On other hand stainless steel has long life and stainless steel also has good corrosion resistance.

During CIP (Acid and base solution cleaning) of kettle stainless steel shows good response. These days the majority of food grade equipment is made of stainless steel.

One more point, Stainless steel is stronger than copper.

The most important consideration is cost, definitely stainless steel will be cheaper than copper.

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I would strongly discourage aluminium. For frying pans it's acceptable, because it does not react with fats. For mash tun I wouldn't accept it. It reacts with acids easily. Especially in hot environment and over long time. It is only safe cold, for non-acidic foods. That's why all aluminium soda cans are lined inside. Anodized aluminium is better, because only hard oxide is in contact with food.

For details about drinks with aluminium, I advise reading http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chemicals/en/aluminium.pdf and similar documents.

Behavioural impairment has been reported in laboratory animals exposed to soluble aluminium salts (e.g. lactate, chloride) in the diet or drinking-water in the absence of overt encephalopathy or neurohistopathology. Both rats (Commissaris et al., 1982; Thorne et al., 1987; Connor et al., 1988) and mice (Yen-Koo, 1992) have demonstrated such impairments at doses exceeding 200 mg of aluminium per kg of body weight per day. Although significant alterations in acquisition and retention of learned behaviour were documented, the possible role of organ damage (kidney, liver, immunological) due to aluminium was incompletely evaluated in these studies (WHO, 1997).

Copper has similar problems, but because it is far less common, accumulating significant dose is harder. Traditional copper cookware was covered with tin on the inside, because it was known since middle ages that not covered copper causes bad health when used daily.

Stainless steel is ideal, because it's hard to dissolve any traceable amount in water, and even if, some amount of iron, carbon and chrome are acceptable and even needed - I remember reading that most "first worlders" don't ingest suggested dose of chromium anyway.

Enamel is good, because it is inert. If damaged, enamel iron will just give iron to solution - flaw in beer, but not an health issue.

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homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/1055/… and homebrew.stackexchange.com/questions/483/… seem to disagree with your opinion on aluminum. – Robert May 5 at 4:43
    
@Robert And World Health Organization and European Union seems to agree. Guess who have bigger research budgets. Your choice who you will trust. – Mołot May 5 at 5:33
    
Note the rate of consumption in that study: 200 mg of aluminum per kg of body weight per day. That equates to a 150 lb. human ingesting about 13.6 g of aluminum per day. At that rate you would consume an entire Update International 10-gallon aluminum pot in less than eight months. And impairment only occurred at doses exceeding that amount. Aluminum is safe for cooking (and thus brewing). US National Institutes of Health: nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002461.htm – bughunter May 5 at 19:02
    
@bughunter at that rate changes are visible in organisms that cannot communicate. It does not exclude possibility of changes with lesser consumption. And of course we all know that USA is far more reckless when it comes to food and water safety. They even still use lead pipes and allow lead to leak to drinking water supplies! So USA calling something to be safe has no meaning for me. – Mołot May 5 at 19:08
    
I don't really care if you're convinced; you're free to believe whatever you want to believe. For the benefit of anyone who might stumble upon this thread later, I'll point out that the study you cited investigated the effects of aluminum in drinking water. It is irrelevant to this discussion, as indicated by this quote from the study itself: "The use of aluminium cookware, utensils, and wrappings can increase the amount of aluminium in food; however, the magnitude of this increase is generally not of practical importance." – bughunter May 5 at 19:23

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